Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
(excerpts)

(Paris, July 16, 2007)

[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]


EUROPEAN UNION

The European flag has been flying next to the French flag at the Quai d’Orsay since July 13. Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner, together with Jean-Pierre Jouyet, wanted this gesture to show that France and the European Union are as closely linked by their symbols as they are by their history and future. As the armies of the 27 European Union member states were to parade on the National Day at the invitation of President Sarkozy, it was important for the two flags to fly together for all to see.

As part of his weekly visits to European institutions, European Affairs Secretary Jean-Pierre Jouyet will be in Brussels on July 16 and 17.

He will be meeting with European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, who handles the internal market and services portfolio, to discuss with him the French presidency of the European Union Council and the major current issues ( postal directive, access of small and medium-size businesses to public markets, the energy market, services directive, payment services). He will also meet with European Commissioner for Multilingualism Leonard Orban and reaffirm France’s commitment to multilingualism as a core value of the European Union, then discuss the European cultural “season” which will take place in 2008 during the French presidency.

Mr. Jouyet will also meet with Patrick Venturini, Secretary-General of the European Economic and Social Committee, and have a working luncheon with the European Banking Federation.

Lastly, he will address the European Policy Center, an important think tank in Brussels, on France’s new priorities in the European Union.

CFE TREATY

We regret Russia’s decision to suspend the application of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) as of December 12, 2007. This is not a move towards the dialogue and mutual understanding which we wish to promote on the European continent and between NATO and Russia.

For France and its allies, the CFE Treaty is a cornerstone of security in Europe. It constitutes a unique legal and political framework which organizes security on our continent in the interest of all states in the Euro-Atlantic area.

We shall take every opportunity to discuss questions relating to the CFE treaty with the Russian authorities and all the states parties in order to ensure long-term control of conventional weapons in Europe.

(…)

NORTH KOREA/NUCLEAR ISSUE

France has noted with satisfaction the return of IAEA inspectors to North Korea and the shutdown of the reactor at Yongbyon. This is a positive first step towards the application of the February 13 agreement and the dismantling of North Korean nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner pursuant to Security Council resolution 1718.

France calls on North Korea to continue the process begun in the six-party discussions, and welcomes the resumption of these talks which was announced in Beijing for July 18.

RECAMP

Pierre-André Wiltzer, High Representative for Security and Conflict-Prevention, has presented the findings of the mission he was assigned by decision of the Cabinet on July 26, 2004. He reported the progress that have been made in the past three years in implementing the RECAMP Program (Reinforcement of African Peace-keeping Capacities) which, it should be borne in mind, is integrated into a European framework.

Mr. Wiltzer submitted proposals with regard to France’s involvement in the demobilization and reintegration programs for former combatants and measures for child soldiers, along with crisis-response and conflict-prevention. These proposals will be thoroughly analyzed.

SUDAN/DARFUR

Q - Is France in favor of a resolution under chapter 7 so that hybrid forces can be deployed in Darfur? Also, could you tell us about the proposal to send European forces to the borders between Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic?

With regard to your first question, France is in favor of such a resolution so as to mount a hybrid operation in Darfur. A draft on this was presented to the Security Council on July 12, and discussions have just started.

Regarding your second question, the foreign ministers of the European Union member states will be discussing it at the General Affairs Council on July 23. Given the security and humanitarian situation in the region, the objective is to accelerate support for AMIS ahead of the hybrid operation and to examine the modalities for deploying an international presence in eastern Chad on the basis of recommendations to be made by the UN secretary-general.

LEBANON

Q - A UNIFIL vehicle was slightly damaged in an explosion this morning in the area of Qassimiyeh. What’s your reaction?

Pending further information we can only regret this incident.

MIDDLE EAST

Q - What are you expecting from today’s meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas? What’s your position regarding the political situation in Gaza?

We expect this meeting to lead to concrete gestures. In particular, the Israeli commitment made at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit on June 24, 2007 to release 250 prisoners, must be fulfilled quickly.

As for the political situation in Gaza, Mahmoud Abbas remains the one and only representative of the Palestinian people./.

Embassy of France, July 16, 2007